Mimic Words

The role of onomatopoeia in the Japanese language is a very critical because Japanese has a very limited number of verbs (but, as previously noted, these mimic words may be effective both for native speakers of Japanese as well as for native speakers of English). One role of onomatopoeia words is to fill in the gap and provide a means for concise expression when a sufficiently descriptive verb does not exist. These words make the language very vivid and instantly conjure up images in the mind of a native Japanese speaker, thus producing a strong synaes-thetic effect. Japanese is uniquely rich in this type of expression, which is frequently used in daily conversation, magazines, and newspapers, especially for headlines, because of its brevity and power to project vivid imagery [8]. A rough English equivalent would be, for example, "butterflies in the stomach." The expressions are classified into categories of different sensory and emotional expressions, such as laughter, pain, and other more cerebral states. Osaka [9] suggested onomatopoeia as a unique language for expressing "sensory qualia" in human consciousness and used multidimensional scaling based on rated subjective intensity to classify the six top pain-inducing onomatopoeia words into Euclidian space. The uniqueness of this type of expression frequently represents a peculiar Japanese way of expressing feelings and/or mentality [8]. Although there is a considerable amount of knowledge about the neural representation of subjective pain, little is known about higher cognitive brain function with regard to pain in connection with language function.

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